My name is Indica Hanson; last year I was in the Teen2Teen program .I am going to be in the program this year as well. I grew up in this program and learned so much from it.
In early September 2009 my mom convinced me to fill out the paper work and interview for Teen2Teen; my mom was a volunteer for Cascade AIDS Project so she knew Annika, the leader of Teen2Teen. I was not exactly ecstatic about this, as I was a grumpy teenager and didn’t want anything to do with some extracurricular activity. I went in for my interview and loved Annika, she was exciting, happy, and I got along with her very well. Finally, I started to become excited about maybe being a Teen2Teener.
Then came the retreat. It was 11 teenagers and Annika in a big white van driving to the beach. I automatically became close friends with this girl Jessie, we talked the whole way to the beach and we made sure we got a room together in the house. The retreat was a blast. We played games with Joseph [another CAP staff] and learned all about sex, STI’s, HIV, gender and sexuality from Annika! I already felt like I was growing. Sadly, it was time to go home. I couldn’t wait for Tuesday as that was the day of our meetings.
All of us fellow Teen2Teeners became very close; we were our own little family. Every Tuesday at our meetings we learned something new and exciting, as the weeks went on I became much more comfortable with myself and with others. I started to open up and share my own opinions. Throughout the months I began to grow up and mature very fast. I realized that I cared deeply about teaching and becoming one with the community. I also figured out a lot about myself, I started to realize who I was. I finally let myself become okay with the idea that I was gay. I came out to my family and to my friends, and I started to really care about the gay community. I started to learn about homophobia and stigma; I tried to fix things and teach people on my own time. I was really becoming a strong peer educator and I really started to get my own thoughts and ideas.
Because of Teen2Teen I felt like I was actually making a difference. I started to teach in more schools, I was teaching high schoolers that were older than me. I was even teaching some middle schoolers and elementary students. The students really listened when a peer was teaching them, you could see them slowly change within the hour that we had with them. We taught them subjects and material that they would not have learned in their basic health class. Being in Teen2Teen was not just to help others learn, but to help you learn as well. It was a life changing experience and I am very glad I joined. This whole thing sounds so cheesy but it is all so very true, I loved it, and so did everyone else. Even if you are not a Teen2Teener there is so much you can do to help the community, you can come to one of our agent trainings or come to CHAT(Room) and learn about sex ed, HIV, get tested, and see what you can do to help as well!
-Indica Hanson, Teen2Teener 2009-2010
[Teen2Teen is a group of passionate, activated youth ages 15-19 who volunteer for an entire year and are trained as peer educators in HIV/AIDS and Sexuality education. The young people in Teen2Teen dedicate their time to learning and educating about HIV/AIDS, sexuality, gender, sexual orientation, healthy relationships, and so much more!]
[If you would like to learn more about Teen2Teen or apply to be a Teen2Teener, please contact Annika Shore: Ashore@cascadeaids.org or 503.278.3872 and you can apply by filling out the application for the 2010-2011 year here]